Ex-Tory MP Zac Goldsmith retains environment minister role as he's made life peer

Former Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, who lost his seat in the 2019 General Election, has been made a life peer and will retain his role as Boris Johnson's environment minister.

The appointment to the House of Lords had been widely expected for Mr Goldsmith, who was the MP for Richmond Park, after resigned MP Nicky Morgan was also made a life peer in order to remain in the Cabinet.

The prime minister had been criticised and accused of cronyism following the appointment of Ms Morgan to the Lords and it is likely those attacks will intensify.

Former London mayor contender Mr Goldsmith lost his seat to the Liberal Democrats' Sarah Olney last week - with his support for Brexit likely playing a role in his defeat.

Downing Street said: "The Rt Hon Zac Goldsmith has been confirmed as a Minister of State (unpaid) at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for International Development.

Zac Goldsmith wanted to replace Boris Johnson as London mayor but was beaten in the race by Sadiq Khan. Credit: PA

"The Queen has been pleased to signify Her intention of conferring a peerage of the United Kingdom for Life on Zac Goldsmith."

The 44 year old had a tough job of keeping his seat in the general election, having won a slight majority of just 45 votes in the 2017 snap poll.

Pro-Brexit Mr Goldsmith was always an awkward fit in a constituency that voted 72% Remain in the EU referendum.

At the December 2019 election, Ms Olney polled 34,559 votes compared to Mr Goldsmith's 26,793 on a turnout of 79% of the electorate.

In the Cabinet Mr Goldsmith will join the new Welsh Secretary Simon Hart, who was appointed after Alun Cairns resigned.

Downing Street announced the appointment amid a debate in the House of Commons on the Queen's Speech.